There are lots of reasons books attract me. There is the pretty cover. The promising synopsis. The one little element that has me going: YAS! This one had all three. I mean just look at that cover! The synopsis, oh my! Harbingers of death! And that “YAS” element: Black birds. I don’t know why, but Rendz was instantly intrigued by that ominous title!
Black Birds of the Gallows by Meg Kassel
A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full.
Angie Dovage can tell there’s more to Reece Fernandez than just the tall, brooding athlete who has her classmates swooning, but she can’t imagine his presence signals a tragedy that will devastate her small town. When something supernatural tries to attack her, Angie is thrown into a battle between good and evil she never saw coming. Right in the center of it is Reece—and he’s not human.
What’s more, she knows something most don’t. That the secrets her town holds could kill them all. But that’s only half as dangerous as falling in love with a harbinger of death.
*I was provided a free digital copy from Entangled Teen via Netgalley, which in no way affects my opinion!*
Um…yes! That synopsis just spells intrigue all over it! Harbingers of death!! This novel was very fun. It had a lot of ominous and spooky elements that payed homage to the death themes, the characters were funny and quirky and the overall story moved quite well! It was also a very quick read, which I appreciated!
What I liked:
Angie: Angie was a very interesting character. She was the shy, meek girl who stayed in the shadows, she was also a girl with a difficult past and a girl with an opportunistic future. She had an alter-ego and everything! I liked her character a lot, she was quirky and curious. I mean that opening scene had me laughing out loud. Her curiosity gets her into some trouble, but when does curiosity ever lead to anything but trouble?
Reece: Reece is your typical YA kind of guy. Hot? Check. Broody? Check. Swoony? Double check (He is from Spain, hello!…..well “from Spain”) Has a difficult past that he can only share with the female main character? Check. Bonus: He can shape-shift. He’s not an unlikable kind of guy, but he just wasn’t very outstanding! I needed a little more meat to his character to really cement some feelings. But definitely Boy Toy material.
There several other characters in this book like Angie’s friends, who brought a lot of comedy! Angie’s relationship with her father was absolutely precious. It wasn’t distant or distraught, but very strong and fortified! So kudos to Kassel for skipping that absent-parental YA trope!
The Birds & the Bees: No not that kind of birds and bees, I literally mean the birds and the bees. Two beings that coexist in this book in order to bring death. It’s not exactly team-building kind of work and it’s not a pleasant symbiotic relationship but wherever one is the other will be! And it was creepy as hell. I will never look at bees the same, or crows for that matter. Neither of which have a prominent presence where I live. However, I did like how these two creatures held their own little mythology and magic. It was a great way to stir up trouble in the town, without it being obvious.
The Atmosphere: It’s cold, it’s chilly, it’s darn right creepy! The isolated town in the mountain where supernatural things are bound to happen was the perfect setting to this novel! Kassel did a great job of setting up all those mysterious tones and the mood was always paranoia. What was going to happen next? A perfect, perfect setting!
Not to mention the “villain”, who can also be argued as a “victim” was super odd. He was
borderline stalker creepy! With faces that changed and bees that literally pour out of his mouth! EW! But his reasoning for his intentions was great. It is something you want to sympathize with, but at the same time negate because he is doing horrible things!
What I Disliked:
Backstory Could’ve Been Stronger: Backstory was a huge element in this book. HUGE! And it totally fell for me. 😦 I felt like Angie’s and Reece’s stories needed to be focused on more, to really understand how they came to be who they are. Although Angie did have her story touched upon various times in the book, I felt like it needed just a little more. As for Reece, there wasn’t really any of that broody backstory to reference.
Origins of the magic that dwells in the bird and bees also could have been further explained. There was no clear story as to where these beings came from other than that there was a curse and more powerful beings controlling them!
Resolution: It was just too squeaky clean. Kassel does this thing (which I don’t always appreciate) where a vast amount of time passes between the end of the conflict and now the characters are back to their regular lives, but it’s not an epilogue. There is no post-struggle drama…everybody is just cool with what passed. And though I don’t want to spoil, Reece’s resolution to his little bird problem was in no way satisfying. I had a lot of “whys” and “hows” by the end of the book.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It was fun and creepilicious. It has some of those typical paranormal tropes and it’s rather predictable here and there. Still, I liked it. It grabbed my attention and it was a solid story!
Rating: 3 / 5 Stars
Recommend: Yes! For my lovers of Autumn who want a deliciously creepy read!
Let me know what you think! What elements of a book really make you want to pick it up? What’s your favourite tropey paranormal read?